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They think it’s all over

November 14, 2012   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

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I was eight years old when England won the world cup in 1966. I can’t claim to remember the oft repeated commentary from Kenneth Wolstenholme “They think it’s all over – it is now” as Geoff Hurst completed his unique hat-trick to beat West Germany 4-2 in extra time but of course this is now the stuff of legend. Team GB and Paralympics GB made an equally legendary contribution to our sporting heritage. Maybe the choice of a lion as a mascot has something to do with it; Team GB and Paralympics GB had Pride the Lion and in more innocent times in 1966 we had World Cup Willie. They think the London 2012 Olympic Games are all over but from a sustainability point of view this is the end of the beginning. Today sees the release of our report entitled “London 2012 – From vision to reality“. It documents the fantastic effort made by my team to get to practically every Olympic venue with the exception of the football stadia. Not bad for a team of four people in a few short weeks. We also visited live sites, logistics hubs, waste transfer stations and numerous other “back of house” …

Are We All Paralympians Now?

September 9, 2012   |   Posted by Andy Shipley

I found myself meeting a friend in a pub on the evening of 29th August, enjoying a little pre-birthday drink. The TV was on, and the usual crowd of sports fans gathered around it. But this wasn’t the midweek match producing the outbursts of barstool punditry; it was the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games. And whilst my friend and I chatted with one eye/ear on the spectacle unfolding in Stratford, our fellow patrons discussed GB’s medal haul in Beijing, the competitors to look out for, and their records. It was at that point that I really began to think that ‘Inspiring a generation’ might be a genuine possibility.  What I think is interesting is that it is not necessarily the events and exploits that are generating record breaking attendance, or the TV coverage but that it’s simply because it’s all just more great sport. The way the venues have been designed and the event organised from the perspective of competitors and spectators, with and without impairment, has perhaps for the first time ever on such a huge public stage, mainstreamed disability. It is the unremarkable way I and other disabled people have circulated within and between venues, without laborious …

Inspire a generation – to greater sustainability?

September 6, 2012   |   Posted by Jonathan Turner

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Inspire a generation signage

London 2012 promised that the Games would “inspire a generation”. During the Olympic and Paralympic Games we have been looking at what this means for sustainability. I recently met with some of the team working on what LOCOG call “look and feel”, which includes everything from signage and way finding to all the banners throughout London and the messages that these are used to convey. Some of the figures involved with this are quite remarkable. 100km of fence scrim (the material used to wrap a fence with) have been used. That’s enough to wrap a fence running all the way …

Move right down inside the cars

September 5, 2012   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

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As we continue to cheer on ParalympicsGB in their superhuman effort to overhaul their record medals tally in Beijing, it is time to start applauding another slightly less obvious superhuman effort by Peter Hendy and his team at Transport for London. The doom mongers predicted disaster, London’s creaking Victorian transport system would not be able to cope with the vast numbers visiting London for the Games. It all worked well during the Olympics despite these gloomy predictions. “Ah”, said the cynics “wait until the Paralympics in September, the kids will be back at school, everybody will return to work, then the system will go into meltdown”. The theory was that everybody who was not interested in the Games stayed out of town in August but they would all return in September and the system would be unable to cope. On the Tuesday of the final week of competition this has not happened to date. My team travelled to all London venues and found the tube lines to be very busy as they often are at peak times. The Docklands Light Railway struggled a little and there were some queues but nothing like the queues of several hours that were predicted. …

Blind faith

September 4, 2012   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

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Are visually impaired people getting a good deal from London 2012? “Everybody’s Games” was one of the inspirational phrases used by London 2012 leaders and politicians throughout the London 2012 programme. My experience to date suggests that the experience for most disabled people has been great. At the wonderful rowing venue at Eton Dorney the other day I was stopped by a wheelchair user who was keen to tell me this has been the best Paralympics ever for “us wheelies”. He was a veteran of Beijing and Athens and spoke with such enthusiasm it made me proud to have played a very small part in supporting “everybody’s Games”. However, there seems to be a small wave of feedback from visually impaired and blind people that could suggest they are getting a raw deal. Last week I met Robert Johnson on the BBC’s In Touch programme. A visually impaired visitor to many Olympic venues, he told his tales of frustration at trying to get audio commentary, without malice and with genuine constructive criticism. Inspired by his words I went along to the Paralympic rowing venue at Eton Dorney and asked some volunteers about audio commentary. They did not know and radio …

Paralympics – a great inspiration

September 3, 2012   |   Posted by David Jackman

We are now being treated to the second half of a great summer of sport. The Paralympics – which has its origins in Stoke Mandeville in the UK and the previous London Games of 1948 – has started with the same enthusiasm and support experienced for the London 2012 Olympics a few weeks ago. London 2012 I am sure will be remembered as much for raising levels of admiration for disabled people, as much as celebrating the triumphs of the non-disabled Games. Both sets of Games are united by the same aims of common endeavour and striving for excellence, both rebuild our confidence in human achievement and the human spirit. But the Paralympics has an extra special dimension, of battling against the odds, of overcoming often immense obstacles and demonstrating tremendous determination. The back stories of some of the athletes are truly amazing. The Paralympics tells us a lot about sustainability. It’s a show case of the resilience and adaptability right at the heart of the sustainability theme. Individuals and families, often caught unawares, have had to cope with real difficulties and limitations. They have had to find ways round what must seem like huge blocks in the road and …

Liberty

September 2, 2012   |   Posted by Emma Synnott

I am still living on the feeling of joining 79,000 others in signing ‘I am what I am’ at the finale of the Opening Ceremony.  For me, nothing beats that moment – looking around the crowd as people stood, stamped and moved to the song made a classic by Gloria Gaynor, while collectively telling the world in British Sign Language that we are all who we are.  It powerfully reinforced the meaning of the word -  ‘inclusion’  truly is about each and every one of us in all our differences.   The inclusiveness of the London 2012 Paralympic Games is not just a product of the excellent work of London 2012 and all who sail in her, but also the result of hard yards over many years by many different people and organisations to make the UK as inclusive as it is today.  While there is still vastly more to be done, it is an important time to recognise just what has been achieved.   It is fitting then, that the cultural pinnacle for the disability movement in London, ‘Liberty’ celebrates its tenth anniversary in the midst of this festival of sport and culture. No cultural babe-in-the-woods, Liberty’s free, three-day …

A whiter shade

August 31, 2012   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

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It was great to work with blind radio presenter Peter White again this week. He has done a lot for disabled people over the years and I admire his work. Peter frequently presents mainstream Radio 4 programmes such as “You and Yours” but my most recent contact with him was in his role as presenter for “In Touch” which he has presented since 1974 with a particular focus on blind and visually impaired people. Just this week I was involved in a debate with a blind Olympic and Paralympic Games Maker called Terry and a visually impaired spectator called Robert who had been to a wide variety of venues. LOCOG has placed a great deal of emphasis on the diversity of the workforce, volunteers and their supply chain. Their aim to have 6-10% of these workforces made up of disabled people was well on track to be achieved when we checked before the Games and I am confident that the final analysis will show this to be a success. It was great to hear Terry’s story, how he was trained and supported by LOCOG and how inspiring he found his role as a Games Maker. He said that he couldn’t …

Parallel Lines

August 30, 2012   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

Paralympics Opening Ceremony

The Paralympics have come a long way since 1948 when the “Parallel Games” were held for recuperating people at Stoke Mandeville hospital. This event has come to its spiritual home and the electric atmosphere at the opening ceremony was an inspiration. It showed up the world’s rich diversity with people of 165 nations, all ages and abilities. How appropriate that Stephen Hawking opened the show, probably one of the UK’s best known disabled people and one of the world’s great scientific minds. I like the nice touch for the national anthem asking “those who can” to stand, but why just …

The Paralympic Flame: A Homecoming

August 29, 2012   |   Posted by Andy Shipley

Last night, I sat alongside 8,000 fellow spectators overlooking the athletics stadium at Stoke Mandeville. Whilst awaiting the arrival of four flames representing each of the home nations, I was deeply struck by how far we have come.  For the inaugural Paralympic games of 1948, whilstLondonhosted the ‘austerity’ games at the Iconic Wembley Stadium, the field of play for the handful of Paralympians was a lawn.  A lawn located on the very site on which 64 years later, thousands of us gather to celebrate the arrival of the global event the Paralympics has now become. Another measure of the progress that has been achieved by the Paralympic movement is the level of sponsorship it has obtained.  Whilst household names such as Lloyds TSB and BT have been somewhat inconspicuous when it comes to promoting the Paralympics on TV and radio, their support for last night’s Paralympic Flame ceremony was very apparent.  It was also very pleasing to be offered a seemingly unlimited supply of free apples and bananas by Sainsbury’s, a welcome healthy alternative to the usual fast food on offer. There were however, a number of disappointing aspects to the event from a sustainability perspective.  Much of the food …


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